Ayanna Pressley: Women Still Shackled in 2020; ‘Constitution Is Sexist by its Very Design’

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) spoke on the House floor Wednesday in support of a bill to extend the expired deadline for states to ratify the controversial Equal Rights Amendment, claiming during her speech that women are still in “shackles” and that the “Constitution is sexist by its very design.”

“Today I rise to affirm the humanity and the dignity of all women,” Pressley said. “I rise in strong, unapologetic, righteous support of H.J. Res. 79, which will strike the arbitrary deadline for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, an amendment that should already be the law of the land.”

“Women are strong, hard-working, bright, and resilient. We are the backbones of our families, our communities, and our democracy,” Pressley said. “We do not live in checked boxes. We live in an intersectionality of lived experiences and identities.”

“Our issues are everyone’s issues because our destinies are all tied,” Pressley said. “Tomorrow’s vote on H.J. Res. 79 is a vote for the preservation of our collective humanity.”

She went on to say in her remarks that women are paid less than men and that this is especially true for minority women. And that women have historically and still do today face discrimination that supporters say the Equal Rights Amendment would fix.

“In addition to pay discrimination, we face pregnancy discrimination — discrimination in the criminal legal system, sexual and domestic violence, and inadequate healthcare access,” Pressley said.

“But this isn’t an accident,” Pressley continued. “The American Constitution is sexist by its very design.”

“This country’s laws have historically treated [women] like second-class citizens, depriving us of the right to vote, enter most jobs, and to own property,” Pressley said. “While some of those injustices may cease to exist, we still face tremendous barriers to our full participation in society.”

“With tomorrow’s vote we have an opportunity to right this country’s wrong,” Pressley said.

Pro-life conservatives, including the late Phyllis Schlafly whose efforts effectively killed the Equal Rights Amendment, oppose it because it is not just about women’s equality but codifying abortion on demand:

National Right to Life is strongly opposed to adding the 1972 ERA language to the U.S. Constitution, because it would provide a powerful legal weapon with which to challenge virtually any limits on abortion, and to require unlimited government funding of abortion.

On Thursday, the House passed the bill Pressley supported on a 232–183 vote.

“We are on the brink of history, and no deadline should stand in the way,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said.

The bill is expected to face challenges both constitutionally and from conservative lawmakers.

Follow Penny Starr on Twitter.

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